I was greeted near the parking area by a lovely row of Garry Oak and one very busy Gray Jay. Oak trees are not widely common in our state and the Gray Jays favor them above all. I am sorry this bird was so skittery I would have liked to have taken a picture of him gathering acorns. (I have a soft spot for acorns dating back to first grade.. Thank you Mrs Hamlin)
I immediately encountered a new form of Desert Parsley, Columbia Desert Parsley. Bold and purple with lush greenery.
I headed inward and upward and soon found a signboard that pointed the way. The longest loop trail is a little over 6 miles. I would have liked a bit clearer trail markers as the cattle have made quite a number of "stock trails" and navigation was challenging. I doubted that I would have enough time to take in a full 6 miles. Once I got up in elevation I knew I would not. I was at full stop taking it in.
Here there were carpets of wildflowers. Everywhere Spring Gold ( which I fist meet at Washington Park) and Sage Violets.
Happy little discoveries of Low Pussytoes,
Blue Violets ,
were new for the year. I even found mystery flowers that I am seeking some input on. There are far more species of flower than I have space to post pictures of. I posted them to my Flickr page. www.flickr.com/photos/meanderingwa/
The treasures on the ground were consuming my attention , but I did try to look out and appreciate the grand view all around.
Right after noon the weather clearly started to change. I decided that I best make my way back down and I choose the riparian (waterside) trail. Clearly this low wet area is still waking up as well. The little marsh was only supporting a blackbird or two. The deciduous trees are just starting to bud. It looks like it will be a good place to find a surprise or two next time I visit.
I stopped for a late lunch and as I hit the road it started sprinkling. By the time I reached Ellensburg it was pouring like I have seen in that area. The rain persisted over the pass and forecast is now for more rain and wind, along with much needed snow in the mountains.
I think I need to take a stay away weekend to do justice to Snow Mountain/Cowiche Canyon and the Umptanum Trail in the Yakima River Canyon. It is easy to have two full days in this area if I leave work Friday and drive over.
You can read more about CCC here
So many places so little time.